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Interview: Steve Orlando is Ready to Bring Midnighter to the Spotlight

"Midnighter loves his job. It just happens that his job is horrifying."

Midnighter was part of STORMWATCH when the New 52 started. Recently he’s been seen in the pages of GRAYSON fighting against him most of the time but we know he’s not a villain type character. We’ve also seen there’s more going on and what better way to investigate this than with a solo series. We got the chance to sit down with Steve Orlando to find out what Midnighter is up to now.

COMIC VINE: Who is Midnighter to you? How do you see him?

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STEVE ORLANDO: To me, Midnighter is a fighter. That is a big part of where we’re going in this book. People talk about how he’s the “anti-Batman.” I think he’s very different. One thing that’s huge for me when I was talking about the character with DC is Midnighter doesn’t brood. People think he’s like another mopey vigilante. Really, Midnighter loves his job. It just happens that his job is horrifying. I think that goes right back to his original appearance, you see him exploding a terrorist island. The final shot isn’t of some villain being blown up, it’s of him smiling and saying, “I love being me.” I think that’s a big part of the character.

He’s got a lot of facets and he has this intense empathy for innocent people because he, himself, was genetically modified and tortured by science. So he has a huge empathy but at the same time, he’s unified it with this almost uncontrollable desire for extreme, Michael Bay justice. It’s been a lot for him to deal with, but I think that is him. He knows who he is and who he is is a fighter. He’s not a detective, he’s not all these things. He sees people that need to be fought for and that’s what he does. That is a great thing when he’s in costume. As we go into the series, it’s also to his detriment because he’s only ever looked at things as a fight. You can’t have human relationships or a real life if you look at every single thing you do as combat.

A lot about the book is going to be him sort of unifying those things and finding out how he can be Midnighter out of costume and really exist if he’s not fighting. So many depictions of the character shows he just puts his finger on the map, goes there, kills some people, then comes back and just does it again. No one can do that forever. I think that is very important. He has no secret identity as we go into the book. If he’s out of the closet as a gay man, he should be out of the closet as a superhero. Everybody knows who he is and what he does but he has to really find out how to do anything. I know that sounds ridiculous, but as I was saying with editorial, Midnighter doesn’t know if he likes bagels. He doesn’t know if he likes going to the movies. He doesn’t know if he likes any of those things because all he’s ever done is fight. He can do that. He’s the best at that but there has to be other things if he’s going to be a real person.

CV: So he’s going to try to explore doing what normal people do?

SO: There’s always this urge with people who have mysterious origins, so to speak. The expectation is, “Oh, is Wolverine going to find out who he was?” and all these things. Midnighter doesn’t care about that. He cares about defining who he is instead of finding out who he was. He is so committed to being Midnighter all the time but, at the same time, he doesn’t really know how to do that. There’s a lot of that. That’s the emotional part but you also can’t have the character without him jumping through two cars and putting his fist through someone’s heart. There’s plenty of that too. He cares by way of sadism. He knows he wants to help people. He knows he has this itch for ultra-violence. He’s found a way, like we all do, to balance our urges, to make it work. I think that’s something a lot of people can identify with. Everybody has their stuff. Everybody has their issues but if you’re an adult, if you’re a real person, you find out how to unify that so you’re a person that can balance the good and evil in you to put out a face that’s workable for society. I think that’s a real human thing that is fun to dig into with this character with such exaggerated themes.

CV: Where does he see himself in the DC Universe? What’s his place?

SO: Midnighter for me, and unquestionably in the book, his place is with normal people. That’s not to say it’s going to be like an episode of Friends. But I think back to one of his appearances in STORMWATCH where he says, “This is all great but I’m for the little guy.” That’s where we are in the book. He’s affecting change he can see. He’s helping people in a micro way and helping people where he can see he’s made their lives better, see that he’s solved a problem they can’t solve. The big superhero battles, that’s not what he’s about. It’s something he’ll engage in but he wants to see an old woman whose house has been broken into and then stuff the guys that did it into her mailbox. Then he knows that he’s done something. That’s really where he is. Much like the character he was based on, The Shadow, he is a person who will have networks of people whose lives he’s saved and changed. It will be this human thing. Everyone is indebted to the Flash or something. He’ll be in personal contact, through technology he has, the lives that he’s changed.

CV: Sounds like there might be a mix in the tone, it might get gritty but also get human.

SO: Hopefully that’s the eclectic mix that people love about MIDNIGHTER. There is going to be themes of him unpacking his life as an adult gay man but it wouldn’t be Midnighter if he wasn’t jamming his thumbs into someone’s eyes. It’s going to be a unique combination of ultra-violence and self-exploration. I hope that’s something people like, but that is definitely true.

CV: What about other STORMWATCH characters or Apollo? Will the book just focus on him?

SO: Apollo is a driving force in the action of the series but that’s not to say Apollo is largely going to appear in the series. Without getting into any of the beats of the first couple issues, all I’ll say is Apollo and Midnighter have largely been on and off with each other for their entire lives as out adult men. That is something I think is very resonant in the queer community. Many many people deal with that. Midnigher realizes he doesn’t know how to define himself as a gay man, without Apollo. That’s not healthy. That’s a broken adult relationship. Their relationship has a profound effect on the series. Apollo will be in and out and there’s definitely still strong feelings. As for what their relationship will be, I think they need to evaluate that. It’s like a high school crush but they’re godlike people. That doesn’t change anything. It’s just as scary for them.

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CV: Will there be any ties to GRAYSON since he’s been putting in a few appearances there?

SO: I love the GRAYSON guys and certainly Midnighter talking about Grayson’s ass was like my favorite thing that every happened. The real answer is, we’re trying to establish him on his own. Having said that, there’s a lot of things that has appeared in GRAYSON that will have play in MIDNIGHTER, even if Grayson himself is not there. I mean Midnighter just walked out of the God Garden and that’s certainly going to affect a lot of things. You’ll start to see the bits and pieces that have escaped the God Garden, popping up in places and causing problems. It really is the driving force of the weird crime aspect of the book. So there are elements from GRAYSON that are sort of sneaking into his goals of being on the street, whether he wants it to or not.

Find out more about Midnighter in June. Here's the solicit for his first issue:

MIDNIGHTER #1

Written by STEVE ORLANDO

Art and cover by ACO

1:25 Variant cover by BRYAN HITCH

On sale JUNE 3 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+

Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.

Spinning out of GRAYSON comes a solo series starring the man who can predict your every move… but no one will be able to predict what he’ll do next! A theft at the God Garden has unleashed a wave of dangerous biotech weapons on the world, and Midnighter intends to put that genie back in the bottle by any means necessary. But something else was stolen from the Garden as well…the secret history of Lucas Trent, the man Midnighter once was!